Wudang Mountain Taoist Music

Wudang Mountain Taoist Templeis a sacred site of Taoism, and even before the Ming Dynasty, was honored as the birthplace of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor of the Mysterious Northern Heaven.

During the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist of the Complete Perfection sect, founded the Wudang Tradition, a new Taoist sect that differed from the Complete Perfection sect in religious theories and rules as well as sectarian style.

The main rhythm used in the Taoist musicof Wudang Mountain is the “Orthodox Rhythm of the Complete Perfection Tradition”, also called the “Rhythm of Ten Directions”. Simultaneously, influenced by local culture and its own historical inheritance, the Taoist music of Wudangs Mountain has evolved with some local characteristics and has a fairly strong sense of individuality, thus composing a Taoist music system with both the generality manifested in the style features of the “Rhythm of Ten Directions”, and the individuality of local characteristics.

The Taoist music of Wudang Mountain is classified into “rhythm” (the part of vocal music) and “tune” (the part of instrumental music), and “rhythm” is subdivided into “Yin rhythm” and “Yang rhythm” while “tune” is subdivided into the “formal tune” and the “informal tune”. The tunes used change according to different situations and audiences. The “Yang rhythm” and “formal tune” are often performed in worship halls and are frequently used in activities inside the temples. The “Yin rhythm” and “informal tune” were mostly performed outside the worship halls. The “Yin rhythm” is mainly used in rituals for the salvation of the dead, while the “informal tune” is mainly used in entertainment performances.

Many Taoist sects have been established based on or exerted influence on Wudang Mountain from ancient times until now. The Complete Perfection sect and the Orthodox Oneness sect are both presently situated on the mountain. The Taoist music of Wudang Mountain incorporates various kinds of styles to form the unique “Rhythm of Wudang Mountain”.

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